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Lyric Music

Fairytale of New York

The Pogues

Album If I Should Fall from Grace with God

‘Fairytale of New York’ was originated with a bet by Elvis Costello that Shane MacGowan and Jem Finer couldn’t come up with a Christmas record that wasn’t slushy. It was inspired by JP Donleavy’s novel back in 1961 called ‘Fairytale of New York. In an interview with The The Daily Mail, Donleavy said: “Technically I could have taken legal action for piracy but as I know Shane MacGowan, I believe his father is a fan of my work, I decided not to bother.” Lead singer Shane MacGowan and banjo player Jem Finer wanted to write a Christmas song right after their second album ‘Rum, Sodomy & The Lash’, the Irish band wanted to release a Christmas single. instead of a cover song, MacGowan and bass player O’Riordan first attempted to record the song as a duet but it took longer and wasn’t ready for a Christmas single, so they recorded it for their next and third album ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’. After that, Producer Lillywhite took the recordings home and had his wife, Kirsty MacColl record a scratch vocal, her voice was so good that they decided to keep it. The song had lyrics about a sailor and a distant ocean at first, and then Finer’s wife suggested changing it to be about a couple at Christmas who are hard on their luck. Finer then wrote another song and took both to MacGowan, who combined the melody of the first with the story line of the second. By the end of 1985, the musical structure and lyrical theme of the couple’s conversation and the song’s title were in place. In an interview with Melody Maker, MacGowan described the Christmas issue, he said: “I sat down, opened the sherry, got the peanuts out and pretended it was Christmas. It’s even called ‘A Fairy Tale of New York’; it’s quite sloppy, more like ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’ than ‘Sally MacLennane’, but there’s also a céilidh bit in the middle which you can definitely dance to. Like a country and Irish ballad, but one you can do a brisk waltz to, especially when you’ve got about three of these “drinks” inside you. But the song itself is quite depressing in the end, it’s about these old Irish-American Broadway stars who are sitting round at Christmas talking about whether things are going okay.”

Release Date: November 23, 1987

Songwriter/s: Jem Finer – Shane MacGowan

Label: Pogue Mahone

Chart Rankings: In the UK, ‘Fairytale of New York’ was announced as Britain’s “favorite Christmas song” and reached number 2 on the Official Charts Company. It topped the charts in Ireland. The song kept coming back to the UK charts several years after it original release, it charted as follows:
• Year 1991 – number 36
• Year 2005 – number 3
• Year 2006 – number 6
• Year 2007 – number 4
• Year 2008 – number 12
• Year 2009 – number 12
• Year 2010 – number 17
• Year 2011 – number 13
• Year 2012 – number 12
• Year 2013 – number 14
• Year 2014 – number 11
• Year 2015 – number 13
• Year 2016 – number 15
• Year 2017 – number 10

Artist’s age on Release Date: The Irish-British Celtic band was active for 5 years and Kirsty Anna MacColl was 28 years old when they released this song.

Cover Versions: Ed Sheeran & Anne-Marie – Christy Moore – Coldplay – Gianni and Sarah – Gary Barlow, Tulisa, Nicole Scherzinger & Dawn French – The Pogues & Ella Finer – Michael Mclntyre – Becky Hill – Maverick Sabre – Jordan Hoekstra – Gavin James – Alexa Goddard & Brett Domino – Amateur artists covered this song on Youtube.

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